An avid fisherman and outdoorsman, former President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance as keynote speaker Monday at the Tracker Marine Conference at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake in Ridgedale, Mo.
The president’s father, George H.W. Bush, addressed the same convention 20 years ago in 1994 in nearby Springfield, Mo.
Invited by Pro Bass Shops and Tracker Marine founder and CEO Johnny Morris, Bush delighted attendees from the United States and around the world, including such faraway places as Australia, Russia, China and South Africa, with stories about his and his family’s love for fishing and their passion for the outdoors, Tracker Marine said in a statement.
He also spoke about his administration’s work to protect water quality and natural resources. While in the White House, Bush restored, improved or protected more than 3 million acres of wetlands and created wildlife habitats through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and other cooperative conservation efforts.
”We pioneered a new model of cooperative conservation in which government and private citizens and environmental advocates work together,” said Bush, a longtime family friend of Morris.
Morris praised the president for initiating many conservation efforts that helped protect wildlife habitats and water quality. One example is an executive order Bush signed to conserve as gamefish two of America's most popular recreational fish –- striped bass and red drum –- for the recreational, economic and environmental benefit.
“We are inspired by and grateful to Mr. Bush and his father for their shared love of the sport of fishing and for their leadership and commitment to national conservation efforts,” Morris said. “His efforts help ensure recreational fishing opportunities continue to exist for us and future generations. We are very proud that the president fishes out of his own Bass Tracker boat on his ranch in Texas.”
Morris and Bush shared fishing stories and laughs with bass fishing legends that included Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn and Charlie Campbell.
On a more serious note, the president also answered questions about his time in office and shared his insights and discussed his new book “41: A Portrait of my Father,” which is due out Nov. 11.